Inside a Designer's Cali-Cool Office Makeover

Updated 05/01/19
Katherine Rose

While we love the opportunity to dress up for the office, there's no denying we often dream of working from home in our pajamas all day. (Although, sometimes we do… Don't tell the boss!) And it seems we're not the only ones. We are living in the age of the female entrepreneur. According to the 2012 U.S. Census, women own 36% of all businesses (up by 30% since 2007), and many of them are making it onto the Forbes list of most powerful women too.

So out of necessity, the work/live space was born: a purpose-built extension of an entrepreneur's home that's dedicated to their creative work. Fashion illustrator Carly Kuhn, aka @thecartorialist, first introduced us to the unique concept when we toured her stunning Laurel & Wolf–designed space, and now the talented creative director and designer Sarah Sherman Samuel shares her own take on that new home office style. In short, we're blown away.

Sherman used to work out of her garage, but upon learning she was expecting her first child, she started making plans for a larger space where she could run the business (and build her team) once the baby was born. Read on to hear how Sherman put it all together along with her style notes.

Sarah Sherman Samuel

The work/live space was also a simple way to achieve the work/life balance she craved once her son was born. "I wanted to stay as close to home as possible for my son's first few years of life, so we set out to renovate the guest house that sits on the same property as our home in Venice, California," she told MyDomaine. "We cleared out what was previously used as a storage space for our product and completely gutted it, vaulted the ceilings, added skylights, and turned it into an office. It gives me enough separation to work in a dedicated creative workspace, while still being close enough to pop-in on my son with his childcare in the house."

Muuto Rest 2-Seater Sofa $5092 $4059
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Sarah Sherman Samuel

Sherman decorated the office in her modern yet relaxed style with an emphasis on natural materials. "I don't design spaces with one specific style in mind. I prefer them to be a collection of styles that come together naturally," she said. "If I had to put a name to the style of the studio itself, I'd say it's a minimal mix of California eclectic with a touch of tropical boho (thanks to my brief stint living in Miami Beach). I'm a firm believer that your space should help tell your story."

Anthropologie Leather Sling Chair $998
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Sarah Sherman Samuel

Sherman's first "I must have that" moment for the space was the sofa from Rypen. "I searched high and low and all around the world for the perfect one and ended up finding it in Denmark," she said. "It's the perfect shade of pink, and I love the relaxed shape and modern white oak legs. I then paired it with a natural jute rug and designed the rest of the space around it."

Joss & Main Lucy Chair $540
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Sarah Sherman Samuel

Just like her varied title (designer, art director, content creator), Sherman needed the studio to "wear as many hats as I do." That meant it had to be just as practical as it was pretty. "We went with all white everywhere (decorators white by Benjamin Moore to be exact)," she said. "It serves as a clean backdrop for product and studio shoots, a place for client meetings and design presentations, and a space to create, write, design, and make."

Park Studio Sonoma Chandelier $1400
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Sarah Sherman Samuel

The beauty of this office is in the high/low mix. Her office desk is a combination of an IKEA desktop with unique wood legs from Petty Pegs, matched with a rare vintage chair. 

Pretty Pegs Otto 700 Table Leg Set of 4 $123
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Sarah Sherman Samuel

The office palette was a subtle mix of green, blush, and neutrals with potted plants and striking banana-leaf printed curtains. "To bring just a touch of polish and to keep things light and bright, I used clear acrylic console tables as desks as well as a lucite and brass curtain rod and brought in pops of metallic like the copper chairs and metallic touches throughout the room," she said.

H&M Home 1-Pack Curtain Panels $35
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Sarah Sherman Samuel

The chairs are a highlight of this space, and Samuel confesses she's a bit of a "hoarder." She adds, "The vintage round rattan Albini makes my heart so happy. I've been on the hunt for just the right leather sling chairs for quite some time, so when I saw these, which are a modern take on such a classic piece, I knew I had to have them." 

West Elm Mid-Century Turned Leg Tabletop Planters $24
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Sarah Sherman Samuel

This column of floating shelves is where Samuel likes to display a mix of current products they've designed, from various tchotchkes to pieces from their limited additional artist collaborations

High Fashion Home Piedmont Hands Vase $144
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Sarah Sherman Samuel

The wallpaper in the meeting lounge area is one of Samuel's own designs. It patterned backdrop pairs perfectly with the sculptural vintage Albini chair and leather sling chairs from the recent West Elm x Commune collaboration. Samuel put on her DIY sleeves, removed the marble dining table top, and set it on cinder blocks instead to create a cool coffee table. 

Cal Marble Round Dining Table $1099
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Sarah Sherman Samuel

After Samuel's hunt for a credenza large enough to double as a standing work table came up empty-handed, she settled on designing and building her own. The IKEA hack paired their classic Besta cabinets with high-quality birch plywood on the frame, legs, and side compartments. Her inspiration mood board features current projects in the works. 

Sarah Shermen Samuel Walnut & Maple Octagon Cutting Board $68
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